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Commentary: Selective Outrage

Commentary by Capil Bissoon

Capil Bissoon
Capil Bissoon

Port of Spain, Trinidad – I am sure glad that Fr Clyde Harvey is not St Peter, the saint charged by many Christians as the one who stands at the pearly gates to determine who shall enter heaven and who will be turned away.

I think many UNC supporters, especially Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will have a more difficult time getting that most valuable multiple indefinite entry visa from Fr Harvey. I suspect PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley will have a much easier time.

The reason?

Two words: Selective outrage.

I saw the bitterness, anger and righteous indignation on Fr Harvey’s face as he limped around the grounds of our Parliament to protest “unfortunate” statements made by MP Vernella Alleyne-Toppin against Dr Rowley.

Nothing wrong with that — after all, any man, and a man of the cloth at that, is entitled to express his outrage.

But a man of Fr Harvey’s stature, and a Catholic priest at that, has a sacred duty to express his outrage not selectively but rather at every instance requiring it.

So where was Fr Harvey when the Opposition Leader brought false and unsigned documents in Parliament accusing the Prime Minister of, among other things, conspiracy to commit murder? Is there not a biblical injunction forbidding persons from bearing false witness against a neighbour?

What would the goodly priest have done if the Prime Minister was photographed wining back on an 18-year-old male? I suspect we might have been privy to a very stern lecture (or a sermon) on the decline in morals and standards. She would have been lynched.

And what about a little girl pretending to be drunk and absolutely disrespecting the Prime Minister and the Office of the Prime Minister, in a march past witnessed and cheered on by the Opposition party? Not a note of outrage.

Thank God the Bible warns, “judgement is mine alone says the Lord”.

In spite of his different-strokes-for-different folks record, I am prepared to forgive Fr Harvey. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So forgiveness is in order.

I am not however prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to those newspaper scribes, independent senators, lecturers at UWI posing as independent commentators, and so-called validating elites who do not have a clue about the meaning of objectivity.

I have no problem with them taking a political side as I have, but for heaven’s sake do not take us for a ride. You cannot, week after week, criticise the Prime Minister and her party and pretend to be objective. You would never be allowed that pretence in Canada.

I see the same selective outrage daily in the media. It appears to be a national malady. The latest example is the “norowley” campaign.

So-called objective commentators are in their element with selective outrage and righteous indignation. Merle Hodge asks of the Congress of the People, as reported in this newspaper, “What does ‘new politics’ mean? Does the COP have a view on this ‘descent into the muck of personal vilification?’”

Not to be outdone, Rhona Baptiste pontificates that the Prime Minister should ask herself…”if in winning an election any means justifies the ends”. And Winford James defines it without seeing it evolve as a personal attack.

My first point is that the “norowley” campaign has stressed ad nauseam that it will only use facts — not personal attacks. So far I have seen only factual statements by former prime minister Patrick Manning. I have seen questions being asked about Dr Rowley’s lack of comprehensive plans and policies to take us forward. The campaign posits questions about how he will fund his “vanity” megaprojects like the rapid rail and the bridge to Tobago, proffering that taxes would have to be raised and spending in other areas would have to be curtailed. These are all timid campaign questions by US, Canadian and European standards.

Meanwhile total silence when a sustained campaign of personal vilification against Kamla based on lies was launched. Where was Ms Hodge when Kamla was falsely accused of conspiracy to murder, of being a drunk, of working only three days a week, of being controlled by a cabal (an outright lie… as anyone who witnesses her unchallenged control of Cabinet will attest), of committing adultery in a Chinese hotel (even though her husband accompanied her), and that she smokes weed (shades of the Sadiq Baksh matter). No outrage whatsoever.

These lies were perpetrated on PNM platforms or by their surrogates.

I have written before of “PNM sleeper cells” everywhere. The malady is even more dangerously pervasive than I ever imagined.

South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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